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Shared by JohnH

This links to NNT’s Amazon book reviews. HatTip to Dave Lull.

Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences
Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences
by Jon Elster
Edition: Paperback
Price: $23.76
Availability: In Stock
39 used & new from $19.73

 
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best: read it at least twice, November 23, 2007

I read this book twice. The first time, I thought that it was excellent, the best compendium of ideas of social science by arguably the best thinker in the field. I took copious notes, etc. I agreed with its patchwork-style approach to rational decision making. I knew that it had huge insights applicable to my refusal of general theories [they don’t work], rather limit ourselves to nuts and bolts [they work].
Then I started reading it again, as the book tends to locate itself by my bedside and sneaks itself in my suitcase when I go on a trip. It is as if the book wanted me to read it. It is what literature does to you when it is at its best. So I realized why: it had another layer of depth –and the author distilled ideas from the works of Proust, La Rochefoucault, Tocqueville, Montaigne, people with the kind of insights that extend beyond the ideas, and that makes you feel that a reductionist academic treatment of the subject will necessary distort it [& somehow Elster managed to combine Montaigne and Kahneman-Tversky]. So as an anti-Platonist I finally found a rigorous treatment of human nature that is not Platonistic –not academic (in the bad sense of the word).
Nassim Nicholas Taleb


The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
by Graham Robb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.45
Availability: In Stock
49 used & new from $3.85

 
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars An answer to so many questions, November 11, 2007

This book has wonderful qualities that I am certain will be picked up by other reviewers. But I would like to add the following. This is the most profound examination of how nationality is enforced on a group of people, with the internal colonization process and the stamping out of idiosyncratic traits. As someone suspicious of government and state control, I was wondering how France did so well in spite of having a big government. This book gave me the answer: it took a long time for the government and the “nation” to penetrate the depth of deep France, “la France profonde”. It was not until recently that French was spoken by the majority of the citizens. Schools taught French but it was just like Greek or Latin: people forgot it right after they finished their (short) school life. For a long time France’s villages were unreachable.
A great book, a great investigation.


Good Calories, Bad Calories
Good Calories, Bad Calories
by Gary Taubes
Edition: Hardcover
Availability: Currently unavailable
73 used & new from $6.47

 
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Empiricist, A True Scientist, October 16, 2007

Gary Taubes is a true empiricist. I can’t believe people hold on to the Platonicity of the thermodynamic theory of diet (calorie in = calorie out).

Read it twice, once for the diet, once a a rich document in the history of science.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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